I’ve reported extensively on the censorship of conservatives across YouTube. The platform and its defenders claim that their algorithms are unbiased and do not target creators based on their political affiliations. Frequently, however, we see conservatives and center-right creators being censored-or even banned-for relatively minor infractions. These creators cry foul and cite the fact that other less savory channels and videos operate with full monetization and no control at all.
Don’t believe me? Just Google “Elsagate” if you really want to scare the ever-loving crap out of yourself.
The YouTube censors have struck once again apparently. A satirical video that has converted a portion of David Hogg’s speech at this weekend’s MarchForOurLives event into a grainy, black and white Hitler-esque rally (complete with fiery dialogue from Der Fuhrer) has been hidden behind a content warning.
Content warnings, for those unfamiliar with the nuances of YouTube, are placed on videos that are deemed inappropriate in some manner. These videos don’t necessarily violate YouTube’s terms of service, but in some cases, they come pretty close. On paper, YouTube places content warnings on videos that are violent, disturbing, or exceedingly controversial.
In practice, however, content warnings have become another method of hiding videos that the YouTube censors do not wish people to see. Conservative and center-right creators with channels large and small have become intimately familiar with YouTube’s content warning system.
The number of views for a video that has been placed behind a content warning is not counted. The video will not show up on any YouTube search. The only way to view a video placed behind a content warning is if you have the direct link to said video. A video with a content warning is well and truly hidden to all but a channel’s die-hard fans who were lucky enough to grab a link before the content warning hit.
Worst of all, videos hidden behind content warnings are not eligible for YouTube’s monetization feature. The loss of income from a video censored in such a manner can be devastating for a channel, particularly if they are hit with multiple content warnings on multiple videos. Many creators rely on their channel’s monetization feature for their income. Enough content warnings can effectively kill their careers.
The satirical video in question was posted by creator MAGA3D, and is fairly innocuous compared to some of the trash sucking up YouTube’s bandwidth. You can view the video here:
The censorship of “Hogg Hitler” is just another front in YouTube’s war on “fake news.” Following the Parkland massacre, a slew of videos was released on YouTube claiming that various students were “crisis actors,” or questioning the official story of what happened. The popular, right-wing InfoWars had several of their videos removed, and numerous strikes were placed on their account. Several other YouTubers, myself included, found out the hard way that any videos speaking ill of any of the Parkland soy boys would be mercilessly removed from the platform.
The question before many YouTube creators who have been ruthlessly censored and attacked is whether or not they should continue with the platform, or seek out an alternative. This is a fairly easy question for smaller channels with few subscribers. Small channels do not qualify for monetization, and moving to a new platform can be fairly easy. A simple video announcing the move is often enough for a small channel’s hardcore fans to find them in their new home.
Large channels, however, may find this more difficult. Many of the alternative platforms lack the engagement of the world’s second largest search engine. A video that managed to score 50,000 or more views on YouTube may struggle to break 100 on an alternative platform. Alternative platforms many times also lack many of the features that YouTube has, such as monetization. A move from YouTube to an alt-tech platform may mean that a creator has to rely on alternative funding methods such as Patreon or PayPal.
Many of the problems with alt-tech video sharing platforms come from the fact that these sites are still very much in their infancy. Sites like PewTube and BitChute, for example, are barely two years old. Many of these platforms are run by normal people programming in their spare time and spending what little money they bring in on site expenses. These platforms will no doubt come into their own as they mature, but there’s no way to gauge the amount of time that would take.
Conservative and center-right YouTubers are increasingly finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they tolerate the censorship and harassment of YouTube, keep their heads down, and possibly gain enough prestige to make a career out of their passion? Or do they cut their losses, migrate to another, smaller platform, and languish in obscurity for an unknown number of years?
Regrettably there is no easy answer to this question. Perhaps there will be at some point in the future.